We need you to help send a message on Saturday that we will not tolerate the NSA collecting the phone records of everyone in the US on a daily basis. We will ridicule the NSA during the Boston LBGT Pride Parade and before nearly a million people. Will you join us?
The secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) granted the blanket order to give the government unlimited authority to obtain such phone communications data as the cell phone tower location of each person on a call, the phone numbers on both ends of a call, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered, thankfully. The government was allowed to collect this data on ALL Verizon customers for a specified three-month period ending on July 19.
We doubt this data collection is limited to Verizon customers, and we know they have been doing it for seven years! Indeed, as was revealed late yesterday, the NSA is collecting data from Apple, Facebook, Google and other on-line services. We know there is even more data they can collect without a warrant.
In Can You Hear Us Now? Colonial-Style General Warrants Return To America, Alex Marthews highlights how far we have come from the rights enshrined in our constitution. He notes that the text of the Fourth Amendment reads:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
And goes on to describe what happened to the colonialists when these rights did not exist:
Why was this important to the Founders? Because royal administrations in the early and mid-18th century would take out “writs of assistance” to suppress dissent. Writs of assistance imposed no limitations on law enforcement, and could cover a whole town. Colonial agents could ransack everyone’s houses, looking for evidence of any lawbreaking. Writs of assistance also effectively suppressed the political activity of people who had done nothing wrong. So when the time came to write state constitutions and then the federal constitution, the Founders were very anxious to make sure that nothing like this kind of general warrant would ever be allowed in the United States.
When the government can know who everyone is talking to, where they were and for how long they talked, we have strayed very far from the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. It does not matter if there are further safe guards to looking at this data, the very act of gathering it infringes on our fundamental right to privacy.
This Saturday, as we march in the Boston LBGT Pride Parade, some of us will dress as Pirates and others as NSA agents. In our floating skit, our Pirates will have a grand time dispersing NSA agents attempting to spy on the crowd. Join us!
If you wish you can fill out the form below or just find us in front of 49 Gloucester Street. Call or txt us at (617) 863-6277 (MAPP) if you cannot find us. Please arrive by 11am. Thanks!